4th of July pizza making and breakthrough
I've been tinkering with pizza dough for awhile now and recently I've had a break through both in my dough formula and with the bake.
Most formulas I've found online for serious quality pizza doughs are designed with high heat wood fired ovens in mind. These doughs are usally high-hydration doughs which work really well in an extremely hot oven. The problem with this for me is that my oven only taps out at 555 degrees, a good 350 degrees cooler than a traditional pizza oven. What results is a dough that doesn't stay crispy, takes too long to color and doesn't rise all that well.
What I've discovered with pizza dough is that there is not one dough that will work with all ovens. Rather, the best pizza dough is the one that works best in your oven. In my case that calls for backing off the hydration significantly. I've found that, in general, the hotter your oven the higher you can push the hydration.
For my oven at 555 degrees the best results I've gotten have come from using a 68% hydration dough. The resulting crust has just the right amount of crispiness with a soft open crumb.
This brings me to my dough formula. I have tried using a purely commercial yeast dough, either straight or with preferments and the results have been good but not quite as complex a flavor as I would like. I've also tried using pure sourdough leavening and have gotten good flavor but the texture is off. The crust is not light and airy enough.
I've finally settled on what, for me, is the perfect pizza dough. It's a hybrid of commercial yeast and sourdough. With this dough you get the best of all worlds. Light, soft and flavorful with a thin, crispy crust.
What makes it even better is that the process is very easy and does not take much work. Simply combine all ingredients and let ferment 2 hours at 76 degrees with 2 folds. After that you can let it sit in the fridge until you are ready to use it. The minimal mixing time results in the most flavor possible and an open crumb. You may want to autolyse this dough if you make it yourself as I did encounter a little bit of elasticity when I attempted to stretch out the doughs for pizza making. Poolish instead of sponge might also help with this.
Here is the formula:
I also figured out a new way of baking the pizza that more closely simulates a pizza oven. With the oven at 555 degrees it takes way too long to get a nicely crisp crust. So what I do is bake the pizza on a stone as normal until the crust has fully risen and the cheese is melted, about 3 -4 minutes. At this point, I put the pizza directly under the broiler and char it for maybe 10-15 seconds. This is enough to get a perfectly charred crust. The best part was that the family loved it!
All the ingredients in the bowl ready to be mixed:
Anaheim pepper and mascarpone cheese: